Aging Boomers Redefine Visual Culture

Posted on 1/28/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

A generation of post-World War II children is beginning to retire. Baby boomers account for close to 30% of the U.S. population and equally staggering percentages of many European and Asian countries. Their transition into retirement is anticipated to have a profound cultural and economic influence over the next 20 years.

The most obvious influence on stock photography is the changing look of society. The number of senior citizens is growing at a rapidly increasing pace, and so will the number of products and services targeting this lucrative market segment. Consumer research and strategy-development firm iconoculture estimates the size of the baby-boomer market at $2.1 trillion.

Recent Corbis' research reveals that aging baby boomers are playing a more active role in the lives of their grandchildren. The company said that 2007 saw a remarkable increase in requests for images of family reunions, grandparents and extended families embracing the concept of love, friendship, vitality and tradition. Corbis termed the trend "generational re-connect," ranking it third among those influencing contemporary visual culture.

The office is looking different, too. Scientific advances and healthier living are prolonging lifespans and careers. In Australia, 19% of baby boomers have no plans to retire, according to a survey by the Australian Psychological Society. U.K. retirement organization Heyday says 60% of British baby boomers plan to work beyond the typical pension age. America's AARP sees no end to this trend; it recently funded a study that demonstrates that 50+ workers represent a solid and sound investment.

From a psychographic perspective, boomers are an educated generation with a taste for the good life. According to iconoculture, they like working from home, anti-aging supplements, climate control, low-impact sports, uber-parenting, dining and entertaining. Contrary to popular belief, they are tech-savvy, with activities ranging from blogging to computer games and other tech toys. AARP research reveals that more than half of boomers are environmentally conscious and base purchasing decisions on the green factor. All sources agree that boomers love travel and will collectively spend upwards of $125 billion on their next travel trip.

In addition to the positive imagery inspired by this generation, it will also bring about some negative economic consequences. If not addressed, the U.S. Social Security Fund will be bankrupt by the early 2040s. The healthcare and insurance industries also face challenges. In the immediate future, analysts' eyes are on the U.S. housing market, which is already in crisis. As seniors historically sell more houses than they buy, the current real-estate downturn may turn into a prolonged market depression that affects builders and owners alike.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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